Hi, my name is Alexandre Syenchuk, I am a happy software engineer.
I am currently living in Toulouse, France, where I get to enjoy this view almost every day while commuting on my bicycle.
I first discovered computers when I was a kid. I was fascinated, interacting with computers felt like magic. I needed to understand how they work, so I started reading some books and learning programming.
Actually at that moment I was growing up in Ukraine, and we didn't have a computer at home. So I had to write my programs on paper and I would mentally imagine how they would run.
I was lucky to have a dad who worked as a researcher in neuroscience, and who had an opportunity to relocate to France. When we arrived in Marseille, I managed to buy an old laptop with a grayscale screen that would run DOS. At first, I played around with QBasic, I remember trying to impress my friends by writing a snake game like on the old Nokia phones.
Then I run out of ideas and I started to learn web development. I created my own website and I've set up a phpBB forum where people would come and ask me for things I could help them with. I figured out that this could help me to learn new things and be useful for some people at the same time.
Once, I helped a hockey club in Switzerland to generate a simple HTML page to print labels with their players' names. It was an easy task, but apparently it solved a lot of hassle for them, so they've send me some Swiss chocolate.
I was so happy to see that I could actually create something useful for people.
I started contributing to Dotclear, an open source project that was a great alternative to WordPress and quite popular in France. I made about twenty plugins around 2007-2008, then joined the Dotclear core team and created a diff tool to keep track of user changes to blog posts, and added a software auto-update feature.
The auto-update feature was my first big screw up. It worked perfectly well for the first time, so we didn't realize something was wrong. But it would not correctly update a checksum file, which made it break the whole software on the next update. It was easy to fix, but it broke a lot of Dotclear blogs. Sorry.
Then, I finished high school and started studying maths and physics at classes préparatoires, which is a quite selective and intensive program in France. Unfortunately, I had no more time to contribute to Dotclear. When I moved to Toulouse for my studies at ENSEEIHT, I also had to do some freelancing work in order to survive.
When I graduated, I just kept working on different software projects, for different agencies, startups and entrepreneurs. I learned quite a lot, and enjoyed solving so many various technical challenges.
For the past five years, I've been busy creating software to run an energy provider company, Qotto. Doing everything from scratch, creating a wonderful technical team around the project, and learning how to do things properly so that we have a reliable system, so that the organization is well structured and can keep growing, so that people feel happy and empowered, was hard and meant some sleepless nights, but it has been a wonderful and invaluable opportunity on so many levels.
Seeing the impact of what we do for our customers has been a great satisfaction. And each trip to Africa has been an unforgettable experience.
But unfortunately I didn't get a lot of opportunity to share my experience with the community. I was able to publish one library on GitHub (yes, surprisingly, automatically processing payments in West Africa can involve learning GSM codecs…), but that's about it.
And I miss a bit the days when I was more involved with the OSS community, when we talked on forums and our own blogs. When we had to run our own mail servers. So, let this blog be my attempt to share a bit more and maybe host some side projects.
I'm also taking this as an opportunity to learn Next.js along the way. 😄